I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
February 18, 2018 - 3:45 p.m.
Last night I did something that I've done countless time with someone that I've never done anything with before; I saw The Kennedys with Amy. I know Amy as the fourth second-fiddler in Burning Bridget Cleary. That sentence make sense if you parse it correctly. The show was at Ethical Brew in Teaneck. By pure chance Amy was teaching in Manhattan, something she does only once a year. I met her at the studio and she drove us to the show. This was a day of everything coming together. I don't mean that everything worked out great, I mean that everything was connected to everything else.
The day was also neuro. I met Amy at the studio, when she was finished with the lesson the student, their father, Amy, and myself went to the elevator. There was a bit of confusion and we walked down one floor before calling it. While we were waiting this guy started berating us. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? YOU CAN'T WAIT FOR THE ELEVATOR ON THIS FLOOR!" He was irate and wanted us to leave immediately. While he was yelling like a madman the elevator came and we boarded it. He cursed us using non-child-friendly language. It was one of those inexplicable events that you hope has a back-story that you are unaware of, preferably taking place in the village of Gimmelshtump, in the country of Drusselstein. We'll see if he tries to take over the ENTIRE TRI-STATE AREA!
On the ride to Teaneck Amy told each other our back-stories, neither of which took place in Drusselstein. Amy is not Celtic but is a Celtic fiddler. I asked her how she got into it. She told me that she started as a classical violist. I of course played viola; I told you, connections. She then went on that she's from New Jersey and there's not much of a Celtic fiddling scene there. Before she could go on I told her that I saw a duo, two young women from New Jersey, that were Cape Breton style fiddlers backed by a piano, playing at the Minstrel Coffeehouse. I thought it was about 20 years ago. I was wrong, I just looked at my blog, it was 2011. But that's not the point, one of those two young Cape Breton style fiddlers was Amy! She was in this band that I loved and never saw again. Not only that, they were opening for the Kennedys that show! This is right out of Dirk Gently. This is what I had to say about them.
The opening act was Sonas. They were a revelation; Cape Breton style fiddlers from New Jersey. ….I am quite proud of my ability to spot talent. They had always stuck with me and I always hoped to see them again. Years later I saw they had a Christmas album, so I bought it. There was no fiddling. It was the pianist's band. My memory or eyes fooled me. I thought the two fiddlers were teens and the pianist the mother of one of them. she was the other fiddler's sister though quite a bit older. Here's a link to the entire blog, I'm a Party Animal . I had no idea that I had singled Amy out till I showed it to her. I've got listening chops.
We had dinner at the venue, Beth made her specialty, Moroccan chicken, that I love. I always want to call it Mongolian chicken. I never get those random brain glitches. The both start Mo and end an, that's all they have in common. For dessert I brought a special treat, halvah from Russ & Daughters. I stopped there before meeting Amy. I remembered that she loves halvah; I forgot that the reason I knew that was that when I had dinner with Burning Bridget Cleary before a Rockwood show I gave them halvah from Russ & Daughters, which is half a block away, and Amy said how she loved halvah. She is half Syrian and it's a middle eastern confection. The question is, how did it spread to Ashkenazi Jews? Sure, our ancestors lived in the Levant 2000 years ago, but I very much doubt it goes back that far. My hypothesis is that it started after the rise of Zionism and people that made Aliyah brought it back to Eastern Europe. Someone needs to write a book on the history of foods that I love. That would be a big seller, right?
Do all music bloggers devote half their blog to food? It seems natural to me. Amy had been having a rough day, but the halvah helped. No day with halvah is a complete loss. That's why I write about food, it feeds the soul, not just the body. Know what else feeds the soul? Music. Maybe I should write a little about that.
Maura was under the weather, you would not have noticed it from the audience. Everyone loved it. I do the merch and I love it when audience members come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed the performance, I kvell. I get to say, "Yes the Kennedys are special." I almost wrote "very special" but I remembered in time and left out the superfluous adverb. There should be an adjective and adverb check on Word, then I could go through what I write and eliminate all but those that are essential. Now I'm writing about writing. One element of good writing is keeping on topic. I'm not perfect.
The Kennedys started with A Bend in the River. My reaction was, "ooo they are starting with a new song!" It's not, it's very old, off their third CD Angel Fire that is out of print. As I lost my CDs and it's out of print I haven't heard it in ages. They very rarely perform it. Chris and Meredith Thompson covered it. I'm going to have to find their version. They did do a series of new songs in the second half. They have finished recording their next album. The Kennedys could do what many acts do after playing for 20 years, become a tribute band to themselves, with an occasional new album that is soon forgotten. Pete and Maura wouldn't do that. Their creative juices are flowing as strongly as ever. Their last album West and the two solo albums they released which came out the same year, Maura's Villanelle and Pete's Heart of Gotham are right up there with their best albums. They remain vibrant creators of new music.
I was merching, so Amy and I sat in the back. I usually sit up front but there's advantages to being in the back when seeing people, I know well. I can get up and dance and nobody sees me but the performers. I sang along softer than usual because I was next to Amy. I wasn't afraid of inflicting my voice on her, but I wanted to be able to hear her singing. Sitting next to a great musician singing along with the band is one of my favorite experiences. I'm lucky enough to get to do that quite often.
After all these years I can still discover new things I love about Pete and Maura. Everyone notices how great Pete plays guitar and Maura sings. If you pay a little more attention you discover that Maura is a great rhythm guitarist and people a great harmony vocalist. What I don't hear people praise enough is their songwriting. My test is if a song can hold my attention for the entire time. Theirs invariably can. Sometimes my mind wanders off but that's because of thoughts inspired by the songs. When listening to one of the new songs I discovered something I can't fully explain. There was a segment with the same lyrics repeated followed by one with just "ooo" repeated. Those are things I'll often complain about in others. The trick I don't fully understand is how they can do that and not have it sound repetitive. I think it's light changes in each repetition. Whatever it is, what on the surface seems like repetition works as development. The outward feel of the Kennedys' music is light and happy, but it is the opposite of kumbaya, there is always depth. There are people that compare music I dislike with Pete and Maura's. They love it but clearly, not for the same reasons I do.
Amy lives in the opposite direction and while she would have given me a ride to the GW bridge where I could catch the shuttle bus to New York she didn't have to, Perry and Beth, who run Ethical Brew, did. They did more than that, they drove me right to the BX 12 Select stop. Thanks to that I was able to make the very last Select bus of the night. After that they run local and there is a 20-minute wait till the next bus. They are the nicest people. They have driven me all the way home even when it's way out of their way. Elves they were and Elves they remain, that is Good People.
I have an entire other adventure to relate but I've already written 1647 words. I'm not doing anything interesting today, I'll save it until tomorrow.
I thought I was finished but realize I never came back to the point I wanted to end with. Early on I said that everything is connected. That is not me being mystical. There's no supernatural reason for it. Everything around me IS connected; connected by me experiencing them. The discovery that Amy's band Sonas opened for the Kennedys happened because I made the connection between Celtic Fiddlers from New Jersey and Sonas. People are connection machines. I believe, albeit without objective evidence, that I'm particularly adroit at it. I certainly bring it up in conversation more than most people. There are countless ways two things can be connected so any two things can be connected if you look at them the right way.
Key takeaways from today's edition.
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please hold me accountable.
Video Didn't Kill the Blogging Star - May 18, 2018
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